Despite the arduous efforts of the Chinese government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the outbreak of rampant infection speaks of the failure of Xi Jinping’s so-called “zero-COVID policy” which has upended daily life and dealt a heavy blow to the slowing economy.
Parts of China have reported a sudden surge in the COVID-19 virus and the outbreak of the fifth wave has forced the citizens to once again face the authoritarian government’s unending restrictions.
Shenzhen city on Monday shut down the world’s largest electronics market and suspended public transport nearby as authorities enforced neighbourhood-wide lockdowns in response to the emerging fifth wave of the virus.
Huaqiangbei, a busy shopping area home to thousands of stalls selling computer components, mobile phone parts, and microchips, is among three neighbourhoods placed under a mandatory four-day lockdown in the Futian district, according to the district government, CNN reported.
Residents have been restricted to leave their houses except for Covid testing, which they are required to undergo daily until Thursday.
All businesses in the affected areas are shut down, except for supermarkets, pharmacies, and hospitals for essential needs. Authorities have also suspended restaurant dining, with only takeaways allowed.
Services at 24 subway stations and hundreds of bus stations across Shenzhen, including around the Huaqiangbei electronics market, have also been suspended.
The districts of Luohu and Longgang also shut down all entertainment venues and public parks and banned gatherings from conferences and performances to square dancing, CNN reported.
At a news conference Monday, Shenzhen officials said the outbreak is mainly driven by the new subvariant Omicron BF.15, which they said is more transmittable and harder to detect.
“The upcoming period will be the most stressful, high-risk and grim period for epidemic prevention and control in our city,” a Shenzhen official said.
After seven consecutive days of decline in the number of newly reported local infections in the Chinese mainland, the number of new local infections increased again and exceeded 1,500 on Sunday, Global Times reported.
At present, the epidemic in the Chinese mainland shows a tendency of multi-faceted and widespread, with outbreaks occurring in many places across the country.
A total of 301 confirmed cases were reported in 19 provinces and municipalities across the country on Sunday. In addition, 1,255 asymptomatic local infections have been reported nationwide, according to the data from China’s National Health Commission on Monday.
Of the 301 local cases reported across the country on Sunday, 161 were from Sichuan Province, which saw the highest number of local infections in the province’s current outbreak.
The neighbouring province of Sichuan, Chengdu reported a resurgence of the virus this week.
Chengdu in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province and Tianjin Municipality, the provincial capital of 20 million people, identified 205 infections on Tuesday after authorities rolled out mass testing across the city.
The authorities have begun to tighten epidemic prevention measures amid COVID-19 flare-ups. The outbreak, first reported last Thursday, was linked to a swimming pool.
Meanwhile, schools and universities in many parts of the country will delay the return of students or suspend offline teaching due to the epidemic.
Hong Kong, which is all set to begin a new school year for primary and secondary schools on September 1, also witnessed a sudden surge in cases, nearing the 10,000 mark.
The city reported 9,708 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, of which 213 infections were imported. The city also recorded 10 new deaths. The city has seen a steady rise in the number of daily infections since the fifth wave, which peaked in March, Global Times reported.
China is one of the last places in the world still enforcing stringent zero-Covid measures. The heavy-handed approach has seen dozens of neighbourhoods across Shenzhen identified as “high-risk areas,” and placed under strict lockdown orders.
In the last two years, while the rest of the world rose to the occasion and meandered its way through the global health crisis, China has clung to its futile attempt at feigning control over an impossible situation.
Videos shared by residents on social media show metal barriers — some topped with barbed wire — erected outside residential buildings, blocking residents from leaving, CNN reported.
However, the unending restrictions have upended daily life and dealt a heavy blow to the slowing economy. In July, youth unemployment in China hit a record high, with one in five young people out of work.
Earlier this month, Covid outbreaks in the resort island of Hainan and the western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet trapped tens of thousands of tourists.
In the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, authorities ordered mass Covid testing during a record heat wave, leaving millions of residents standing under the sun for hours as they struggled with extreme temperatures and power shortages.
The country’s aggressive stance at tackling the virus is spread across various responsive measures, including contact tracing, constant testing at a mass scale, flash lockdowns and social isolation- every one of these ‘protective’ measures plays a prominent role in creating further, more insidious problems for the common man. (ANI)